Your Duke Center for Autism News & Updates
What's in this issue?
Thank you for signing up for our newsletter.  We look forward to telling you about exciting news, upcoming events, and new opportunities to partner with us.
We are a team of clinicians and researchers who are dedicated to helping each individual with autism and related developmental disabilities reach his/her full potential.  One way we accomplish this is through research.  However, research is not possible without a partnership with individuals on the spectrum and their families.  Thus, we are indebted to each family who has been part of our research studies at Duke.  In this newsletter, we will share some of the highlights of our research and clinical programs.  If something inspires you, or if you have a question or comment, please don't hesitate to contact us. 
We hope you enjoy our newsletter and look forward to staying in touch!

Best regards,

Geraldine Dawson, PhD 
clinicspotClinic Spotlight: ESDM Training
Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Dr. Katherine Davlantis, and Dr. Lauren Franz of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development will offer a one-day introductory workshop on the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), an early intervention for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), on December 6, 2016. ESDM is a manualized intervention and is comprised of a curriculum, a set of teaching practices that are based on naturalistic, developmental applied behavior analysis principles, and a fidelity measure. The model uses the knowledge of how typical children develop and learn and the ways in which ASD affects early development in order to improve developmental outcomes for children with ASD. The goals of ESDM are to reduce the severity of ASD symptoms in young children and to accelerate children's developmental rates in multiple domains, including cognitive, social-emotional, adaptive, and language skills. Additionally, ESDM is one of two early intervention methods that are considered by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to be efficacious intervention methods.
Workshop activities will include didactic instruction, exercises, and group discussion. The workshop is open to individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including professionals, parents, and other interested parties. The workshop is not designed to certify individuals as ESDM therapists, but instead to introduce attendees to the core principles and practices of ESDM. Joint Accreditation-approved continuing education credits will be provided!
Please visit our website for more information!  
Joint Accreditation
The Early Start Denver Model Introductory Workshop is jointly provided by the Duke University Health System Department of Clinical Education and Professional Development and the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development.

In support of improving patient care, the Duke University Health System Department of Clinical Education and Professional Development is accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), to provide continuing education for the health care team.

Category 1 : Duke University Health System Department of Clinical Education and Professional Development designates this activity for a maximum of 6.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should claim only credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
*Attendees are expected to be present for the entire program. Individuals who are not present for the full program will not receive JA credits. No partial credit will be provided. Certificates of attendance will also be provided at the end of the full day. Certificates are not available for partial attendance.

FacultySpotlightFaculty Spotlight: Dr. Tara Chandrasekhar
Meet Dr. Tara Chandrasekhar--a valued faculty member serving children and families at the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development.
Tell us about yourself :
I am a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist at the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development and a faculty member of the Duke Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. I received my medical degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and completed my psychiatry residency and fellowship at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  Though I've been connected to two great institutions in North Carolina, I consider myself neutral when it comes to sports! 
What are your roles at the Center?
I currently provide medical assessments for various research studies at the Center that involve medication treatments. I work closely with our research team and serve as a resource for families participating in our studies. In addition to clinical research, I teach and supervise Duke child and adolescent psychiatry fellows, general psychiatry residents, and medical students. 
What do you like the most about being part of DCABD?
I joined the Center in August 2015 and have loved the opportunity to be a part of many projects.  The best thing about my job is the opportunity to build relationships with kids and parents over time, share in triumphs, and provide support during difficulties. I learn something new every day!

researchResearch at Duke Center for Autism - Partner With Us!
Join Our Autism Research Family

Through our registry , we have been pleased to connect families and individuals with exciting research opportunities. We also host events and activities to connect with the community. By joining our Volunteer Registry for Autism Research , you can receive information about upcoming special events and emerging study opportunities that may be a good fit for you or your family. The registry is open to individuals of all ages with and without autism. Your participation is always voluntary, and you may withdraw at any time.

To learn how to become part of our registry, please call 1-888-691-1062 or send an email to We will answer any questions you may have and help you
get registered!

Help Research Take Flight!

Advances in science are made possible by the people who offer their time to participate in research studies . We are currently recruiting individuals with and without autism for research studies in order to learn what is the same and what is different between these groups.

By enrolling yourself or your child in a research study at the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, you are directly contributing to the advancement of detection methods and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Most studies involve you and/or your children coming to one of our family-friendly research labs and completing various cognitive and behavioral assessments. Our studies are a fun learning opportunity for your child, who will get a unique behind-the-scenes look at what is really involved in research! Most of our studies also include compensation for your time, and visits are scheduled at times that are convenient for you.
Visit our website or email us at to learn about research opportunities at Duke that might be a good fit for you and your family!

eventsEvents: What We've Been Up To, What You Won't Want To Miss
Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Who Stole Christmas: A sensory friendly production

On Saturday, December 3, 2016, Duke Health will be sponsoring a sensory-friendly production of Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, in partnership with the Durham Performing Arts Center, the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, and the Autism Society of North Carolina. The production will feature "sensory-friendly" variations of the original production and provide a supportive and accepting space for individuals on the autism spectrum and those with related disabilities. Quiet spaces and sensory-friendly materials and toys will be provided. The reinterpretation of the production has been thoughtfully and carefully designed by our partners at DPAC who have reached out to Drs. Katherine Davlantis and Lauren Franz for expert advice on techniques that will enhance the production and environment. We are thrilled to see our community come together to provide a fun and safe environment for our children and families as we approach the holiday season. We look forward to seeing you there!  Click here to purchase tickets.
ASNC Triangle Walk/Run and Marbles' Halloween Spooktacular

For this year's ASNC Triangle Walk, the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development partnered with Team Sheriff in support of increasing autism awareness and supporting ASNC's mission. Given the weather conditions that prevented the walk from taking place, we are pleased that ASNC's Triangle Run/Walk Celebration has been rescheduled for Wednesday, October 26th, at Marbles' Halloween Spooktacular.

Read more about this fun event here. We hope to see you there! 

#GameON Autism Golf Clinic  
In August, our Center partnered with the Ernie Els Foundation to host our second #GameON Autism™ Golf Clinic at the Washington Duke University Golf Club. The Ernie Els Golf Program was established by World Golf Hall of Fame member, Ernie Els, to introduce golf to individuals on the autism spectrum and is currently supported by multiple golf organizations, including The First Tee, PGA of America, PGA Reach, and U.S. Kids. Golfers had the opportunity to learn basic golf skills and get one-on-one and group instruction. Parents and other family members were there to cheer them on!

This clinic was the third of many more sports clinics we plan to host. We are already looking forward to hosting our next sports clinic with Duke Athletics next Spring!

NBA All-Stars Visit Duke Center for Autism

Grant Hill, Jay Bilas, and Gerald Henderson toured our Lab and Center this past September. We were thrilled to tell them about our mission and about the studies we are conducting. We also had the opportunity to thank them for their contributions to Autism Research and got their autographs!

SAP Autism at Work: José H. Velasco speaks at Nasher Museum for Autism Awareness Month Event with Fuqua School of Business

  In honor of Autism Awareness Month, the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences hosted guest speaker José H. Velasco, head of the SAP Autism at Work Initiative. SAP Autism at Work is a business transformation program that leverages the unique skills and abilities of people on the autism spectrum in core business functions of the company, including but not limited to: Software Development, HR, Marketing, Support, and Finance and Administration.
The presentation featured inspiring stories about SAP employees, as well as the history of the program and the processes used to interview, train, and retain employees on the autism spectrum. Duke MBA students also presented their consultation project with SAP, which they completed under the mentorship of Duke Fuqua School of Business faculty.
Over the past year, the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, Duke Fuqua School of Business, and SAP have formed a partnership to help promote the success of SAP's Autism at Work program.  We are excited that future business leaders being trained at Duke are part of this program!
results1Duke Center for Autism and Duke pediatricians partner to improve screening for autism
The Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development supported a quality improvement study from September of 2014 to October of 2015 in one of the Duke Primary Care Pediatrics clinics. The goal of the study was to ensure that children who screen positive for autism at their 18 or 24-month well child visits receive a referral for diagnostic evaluation and treatment. Consistent and reliable screening helps children with autism get started in treatment at the youngest possible ages.
Previous to the study, parents filled out a screening form on paper, requiring the nurse or doctor to hand-score the questionnaire, a time-consuming process. The study involved converting the questionnaire to a digital screening form with automatic scoring and recommendations for next steps. Caregivers filled out the form on an iPad in the waiting room before they met with the pediatrician. This made the process more efficient and reliable for the physicians, who were able to quickly get feedback on the toddler's screening results and recommendations before meeting with the parent and child. The study showed a significant improvement in the quality of screening.  More accurate documentation of screening occurred, as well as more frequent referrals for evaluation when the child was showing signs of autism. Digital screening helped streamline the process for caregivers and busy physicians, potentially allowing for greater time for physicians to spend talking with families. This is an important finding that we hope will inspire other centers to convert to digital screening. The project was led by Kathleen Campbell, a medical student, under the mentorship of Dr. Geraldine Dawson and in collaboration with Dr. Guillermo Sapiro of the Duke University Pratt School of Engineering and Dr. Jeffrey Baker of the Duke Department of Pediatrics, among others.

advocacyAdvocacy: Congressman Price visits Duke Center for Autism
On Monday, September 19th, Congressman David Price and District Representative Tracy Lovett visited the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development to learn more about the Center and our efforts to promote successful employment of adults with ASD. Also attending the meeting were Drs. Geraldine Dawson, Lin Sikich, and Tara Chandrasekhar from the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, José Velasco, Head of the Autism at Work Program at SAP, and Jewell Parkinson, Head of HR for SAP North America.

We were excited to share our experiences with Congressman Price and discuss Duke's role in the SAP Autism at Work program. Last year, MBA students at the Duke Fuqua School of Business completed a four-month business consultation research project with SAP Autism at Work. Dr. William Boulding, Dean of the Duke Fuqua School of Business, expressed his strong support for maintaining and growing the partnership with SAP and the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development. Congressman Price offered to work with us to consider how federal legislative efforts could further support the Autism at Work program, as well as other efforts aimed at improving the successful employment of adults on the autism spectrum. We look forward to working together to improve policies that support individuals on the spectrum by advancing their careers and expanding their professional opportunities.

Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development |

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